This forum was closed on October 1st, 2010. However, the archives are open to the public and filled with vast amounts of good reading and information for you to enjoy. If you wish to meet some Wardrobians, please visit the Into the Wardrobe Facebook group.

Ch 2b: pp 14-16

For the Medieval Dinosaur in all of us.

Ch 2b: pp 14-16

Postby Stanley Anderson » 19 Feb 2007, 18:24

(Five paragraphs beginning with “Furthermore, and apart from...” and ending with “...a new theory of the nature of theory”)

In this section Lewis talks about the provisional nature of the medieval’s view of the cosmological model and how its purpose was in “saving the appearances”. This illuminates, for me, a seeming blind spot that many modern people have about the medieval mindset – ie that they were more hardcore about the “reality” of their view of the world than they actually were. (Since he goes more into this in chapter V The Heavens, I'll leave some of the discussion about that till then -- though see later in this post for a bit more).

He also adds some commentary about Occam’s razor. I can’t resist commenting that in the paragraph where he mentions Occam, the example he gives about Shakespeare’s work’s authorship is, ironically, almost a direct address to the issue of the authorship of The Dark Tower. Try re-reading that section but replace “Shakespeare” with “Lewis” and see how it sounds. The primary impetus of the claim of forgery was that it was not written as well as other Lewis works (that is not my claim by the way). Of course forgery proponents had other things they used to try to back up their claims, but the dislike of the text’s quality (in their opinion) was generally the main driver.

I’ll also just toss out a typically Stanley-like philosophically self-referential comment that occurs to me in relation to Occam’s razor: I wonder if Occam’s razor itself satisfies its own conditions for acceptance – ie, is the concept of insisting on the simplest explanation that saves the appearances, itself the simplest explanation of how to choose between several alternate explanations? I guess one would first have to figure out what some alternate possibilities to Occam’s razor would be:-)

At the end of this section he makes a passing comment about something I’ve heard about from a couple other places – that the real reason for the Church’s condemnation of Galileo was more to do with his declarations of “fact” about his proposals than with the issue about the placement of Earth in the solar system. As Lewis writes:

The real reason why Copernicus raised no ripple and Galileo raised a storm, may well be that whereas the one offered a neew supposal about celestial motions, the other insisted on treating his supposal as fact. If so, the real revolution consisted not in a new theory of the heavens but in ‘a new theory of the nature of theory’.


We can see some of the fallout of this revolution in debates about Evolution and the finessing about whether it is a theory or a fact. As a side observation about this Copernicus/Galileo difference, I’d be tempted to say that Professor Kirk’s famous lines about “What DO they teach them at these schools” drew from some of this thought, though I can’t be sure of course.

Another thought that occurs to me about the Copernicus/Galileo difference is that I wonder if there isn’t some of this thought in a sort of mythological manner in the way Lewis talks about mythological “reality” (eg the dragon, etc) in Perelandra and Malacandra and the mythological imagery on earth of “realities” in the heavens (eg, the “gods”, or the flame colored woman in Jane's room, or the "influences" on earth). This is hard for me to pinpoint exactly, but it is almost as though Lewis is saying that those mythological images are a sort of “saving the appearances” of psychological “realities” that are embedded in our minds. (Gaah! Re-reading that last bit makes me realize how unintelligible it will appear – and yet, something feels right to me there even if I haven’t stated it clearly, so I’ll leave it for consideration:-)

--Stanley
Last edited by Stanley Anderson on 05 Mar 2007, 16:53, edited 1 time in total.
…on a night of rain Frodo smelled a sweet fragrance on the air and heard the sound of singing that came over the water. And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a fair green country under a swift sunrise.
User avatar
Stanley Anderson
Wardrobian
 
Posts: 3251
Joined: Aug 1996
Location: Southern California

Postby ABC » 24 Feb 2007, 00:55

Hi Stanley,

I've been lurking around the book study thread for a while, but hadn't worked up the courage to put in my two cents.

I also read the same thought about Copernicus and Galileo in a very lively book about the history of astronomy called "The Watershed" by Arthur Koestler (a very good book, by the way, and it reads like a novel).

I'm not sure I understood your last thought (or, rather, I'm sure I didn't) - but that's my fault, not yours. Another way of saying what I think you mean is that Lewis creates mythological images to express or account for psychological phenomena - a kind of pageant of walking Jungian archetypes. He thus creates a model of internal reality that works as long as the reader exercises a "willing suspension of disbelief" while, at the same time, realizing that the model really IS just a model. Is that it? If it is, I think it's very true, especially of "That Hideous Strength".

I see what you mean about Occam's razor. It would be fun to invent an alternative principle! By the way, I find Occam's razor the most unanswerable of all arguments against the existence of God - but that is a whole other discussion, I'm afraid.
ABC
Wardrobian
 
Posts: 23
Joined: Jul 2006

Postby sehoy » 28 Feb 2007, 08:55

ABC:
a kind of pageant of walking Jungian archetypes


This is a good description and helps me a lot.

Thanks for posting that.
cor meum vigilat
User avatar
sehoy
 
Posts: 586
Joined: Nov 1999
Location: TN, USA

Postby girlfreddy » 28 Feb 2007, 15:18

Found this on Wiki (had to go look up Occam's Razor. Man, you guys go way over me sometimes. Thank God for Wiki and Google.) Anyway, here it is:

Considering that the razor is often wielded against theism, it is somewhat ironic that Ockham himself believed in God. He apparently considered Christianity to be outside the scope of his rule, once writing, "No plurality should be assumed unless it can be proved (a) by reason, or (b) by experience, or (c) by some infallible authority." The last clause "refers to the Bible, the Saints and certain pronouncements of the Church" (Hoffmann 1997).


I learn more and more here each day. Is that a good thing? :wink:

(ps. I know this is outside the study too, but I just thought that I would mention that from what little I understand of Occam's Razor, I think that it is also the way that most theological studies, especially eschatology, try to decipher Biblical images. Kind of like the KISS principle: Keep It Simple Stupid. :lol: )
How would telling people to be nice to one another get a man crucified? What government would execute Mister Rogers or Captain Kangaroo?
Philip Yancey

http://girlfreddy.wordpress.com/
User avatar
girlfreddy
Wardrobian
 
Posts: 2315
Joined: Jan 2007
Location: Ontario, Canada

Postby Stanley Anderson » 28 Feb 2007, 16:00

ABC wrote:I've been lurking around the book study thread for a while, but hadn't worked up the courage to put in my two cents.


Please be encouraged to add more cents if that makes any sense:-)

I'm not sure I understood your last thought


You're not alone -- I'm not sure I did either. It was more a flashing idea in my head that I got a brief glimpse of before it disappeared and I was just trying to quickly note down its passing:-). By the way, this allows me to re-emphasize that many of my comments here are not well-thought-out and honed down, but just spewed out for consideration. I say this because I want to encourage discussion of ideas here. I don't want this to seem like a "teacher" disseminating information since I don't feel like an expert at all. I'm "leading" it to keep it organized, but I'd rather it be an inklings-like discussion of equals tossing ideas back and forth rather than a student-teacher like hierarchy. No need to work up courage -- just dive in.

Another way of saying what I think you mean is that Lewis creates mythological images to express or account for psychological phenomena - a kind of pageant of walking Jungian archetypes. He thus creates a model of internal reality that works as long as the reader exercises a "willing suspension of disbelief" while, at the same time, realizing that the model really IS just a model. Is that it? If it is, I think it's very true, especially of "That Hideous Strength".


That sounds pretty darn good to me (now I am the one that needs to work up courage to reply:-). I think you are talking about the reader's experience in understanding the book though (a wonderful topic to discuss here too!), while what I was getting at was more the experience of the characters within the novel.

In other words, Lewis says Copernicus raised not a ripple because he, in effect, talked about the "model" of a sun-centered system that saved appearances, whereas Galileo raised a storm because he, in effect, said his idea of the sun-centered system was not a model but was in fact reality. And within the novel (boy, as I begin to think this through more clearly, I can see it going astray and becoming invalid even as I type, but I'll drive off the cliff anyway for the moment:-), the Perelandrian and Malacandrian "mythical realities" that Ransom witnesses are a sort of Galilean-like storm of actuality to him, compared to the novel's earthly Copernican-like "model" of myths-no-longer-believed by other characters like Jane and MacPhee and the rest who have to come, through the course of the novel, to see the reality of those myths from a larger point of view.

(Now as I type, this thought just occurs to me -- I wasn't thinking of it before in the earlier post). When we stand in our smallness on the earth and look at the sun, it appears to us that it is moving across the sky and that we are solid and standing still when in reality, if we look at it from "outside" the earth, we would see that it is the earth that is moving while the sun is stationary (yes, I know that the sun moves through the galaxy too -- we won't worry about that for this image for now). And similarly, from our position on Thulcandra (within the context of the novel), our scientific view of the world seems to have the solidity and "standing still" quality while the mythology of the spheres and medieval view are the ethereal wayward things. But from the "extra-Thulcandran" view that Ransom gets by travelling outside the earth, he sees that it is the mythology that has the solid reality to it (and curiously in the novel, it is the supposedly "scientific" NICE that falls prey to unreality and meaninglessness [thinking of Wither and others] in its quest for domination).

Well, as I said, I can think of lots of inconsistencies in what I typed above, but it is still interesting to think about:-)

I see what you mean about Occam's razor. It would be fun to invent an alternative principle!


Well, I suppose the opposite (something like "the more complex explanation is to be preferred") is a possibility, but if a simpler principle than Occam's razor were really available (and I'm not saying there isn't one) I can see a sort of "this sentence is false" logical paradox quickly developing along that line (ie, by Occam's razor, one would select the other simpler principle instead, but then you wouldn't have Occam's razor anymore to be the reason for selecting that other principle in the first place, etc, etc)

By the way, I find Occam's razor the most unanswerable of all arguments against the existence of God - but that is a whole other discussion, I'm afraid.


Maybe a good thread topic for the Religion forum? Give it a try!

--Stanley
…on a night of rain Frodo smelled a sweet fragrance on the air and heard the sound of singing that came over the water. And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a fair green country under a swift sunrise.
User avatar
Stanley Anderson
Wardrobian
 
Posts: 3251
Joined: Aug 1996
Location: Southern California

Postby Stanley Anderson » 28 Feb 2007, 16:10

(By the way, I'm glad for this discussion since it carries this thread out further. Without it, I probably should long ago have already gone onto the book's next section since this section has been sitting here for more than a week. But I've just been too busy to get to the next section. Of course my longish replies in other forum threads doesn't help either:-)

--Stanley
…on a night of rain Frodo smelled a sweet fragrance on the air and heard the sound of singing that came over the water. And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a fair green country under a swift sunrise.
User avatar
Stanley Anderson
Wardrobian
 
Posts: 3251
Joined: Aug 1996
Location: Southern California


Return to The Discarded Image

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered members and 1 guest

cron